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Bosnia: U.S. Diplomat says Bosnia polls face Difficulties

Sarajevo, August 2 (RFE/RL) - The top U.S. diplomat in charge of organizing Bosnia's general election next month says the vote will be filled with problems because it will take place in what remains a virtual war zone.

Robert Frowick, head of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mission in Bosnia, said the elections would go ahead as planned on September 14. But he said the vote ideally should be held much later to allow the nationalist divisions of Bosnian Muslims, Serbs and Croats to ease and give way to reconciliation.

But Frowick said the Dayton peace accord set a timetable which left his mission no choice but to organize what he called imperfect elections. He said NATO troops would act as peace enforcers together with legions of observers to ensure the elections are at least "reasonably democratic."

Frowick cited problems such as the absence of an independent media, the inability of civilians to cross internal ethnic lines in safety and the political influence of indicted war criminals.

He said the Bosnian Serb party of Radovan Karadzic could still be barred from elections if it breaks a pledge that Karadzic stays out of campaigning. Last month, Karadzic pledged he would step down from public office.